Is the Cholesterol in Eggs Bad for You?

We know that eggs are a great source of protein, but have you ever looked at the nutrition information printed on the cartoon? In addition to 6.5 grams of protein, eggs contain a sobering 213 mg of cholesterol. That’s about 71% of the recommended daily cholesterol intake for a healthy individual.

So does that mean we should avoid eating eggs? Probably not.

The impact of dietary cholesterol (i.e., the cholesterol we eat) has a fairly small impact on the cholesterol in our blood. Some people with high cholesterol diets have low blood cholesterol, and some people with low cholesterol diets have high blood cholesterol.

In a study by cholesterol researcher Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the consumption of 2-3 eggs per day was found to have little or no impact on blood cholesterol levels in 2/3 of participants.

For the other 1/3 of participants, blood cholesterol levels did rise. But the levels of so-called “good” cholesterol increased in proportion to the levels of “bad” cholesterol, so the ratio of good to bad cholesterol stayed the same. This ratio of good to bad cholesterol is considered a better indicator of the risk of heart disease than overall cholesterol concentrations.

Moreover, it seems that in the 1/3 of participants with an increase in cholesterol levels, the cholesterol particles became more bigger and not more numerous. When measuring cholesterol levels in laboratories, it’s done by weight. The researchers from this study believe that the increase in weight wasn’t because there were more cholesterol particles, but just that the existing particles became larger. And larger cholesterol particles are less likely to get stuck in arteries and cause heart disease.

So what does it all mean?

If you already have cardiovascular disease, a poor diet that is high in saturated fat, diabetes or high blood cholesterol levels, it’s probably a good idea to avoid eggs or to consume them sparingly. For healthy individuals, consuming eggs as part of a balanced diet is perfectly acceptable – just don’t go overboard. And, since the cholesterol and saturated fat from eggs is contained primarily in the yolk, egg whites are a great alternative – and they still provide just over half of the egg’s protein.

That should be egg-cellent news for egg lovers.

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Comments

  1. I believe this is an important concept, thanks for bringing it to the conversation. Cholesterol has long had a bad rap and is largely misunderstood. Inflammation is a much larger issue and is even more misunderstood:

    http://articles.cnn.com/2008-10-16/health/healthmag.cholesterol.inflammation_1_c-reactive-protein-bad-cholesterol-inflammation?_s=PM:HEALTH

    What if eliminating grains (including wheat, rice, barley, etc…), dairy, legumes (all important pieces of the USDA food pyramid) and sugar is actually the key to health? It’s an interesting theory which is picking up a tremendous amount of momentum.

  2. I usually eat 4 eggs, that’s 3 egg whites and one whole egg. I think that’s acceptable.

  3. “the cholesterol particles became more bigger and not more numerous.”

    You don’t need the word more there.

  4. Eggs do contain a lot of cholesterol. But we have forgotten the lessons of yesteryear. You have to have balanced meals. If you have eggs have citrus fruit on the side. Grapefruit and strawberries reduce cholesterol. Maybe make the eggs into an omelette with a dark green leafy vegetable like spinich. Even have the egg on the side of a high fiber cereal. Its about balance in life, not elimination. If you eat something balance it with another. Just as much as one thing might raise something another food might lower it.

  5. Karen Knutsen says:

    I must have a copy of this article sent to my e-mail…I love eggs and would like to prove to my husband that eggs are very good for you…

  6. Republicae says:

    There is no such thing as good or bad cholesterol, it is just cholesterol with different proteins of delivery into the body, which by the way needs cholesterol to function normally and healthy. Recent studies have concluded that there is no connection between either saturated fats or high cholesterol and heart disease. The problem is not, nor has it ever been cholesterol, but oxidation and inflammation brought about by a whole host of issues stemming from various types of foods, including legumes and wheat products, as well as corn products and its by products.
    Every portion of your body needs, absolutely requires cholesterol from your brain to every cell in your body, it is necessary for proper hormonal balance, cell production and repair, serotonin production and balance…everything. You body produces cholesterol through the liver and it also recycles cholesterol back through the liver to be used again and again.
    Again, we have listened to government sponsored idiots, usually those who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma and the fact is that they are killing people with their Statin drugs, lowering people’s cholesterol to very dangerous levels. Even the recommendation of a serum cholesterol of below 200 has no basis in actual science, but damn didn’t it get over 26 Million patients on drugs like Lipitor and others? Want to see a real shocker, read the fine print on all those Anti-Statin Drugs….see just what the effective rate really is….

  7. Danielle Kelly says:

    Mayo Clinic Cardiologist
    Thomas Behrenbeck, M.D., Ph.D.

    This url is a link to an article on eggs by a cardiologist.
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cholesterol/HQ00608

    I hope this clears up the confusion.

  8. Perfect example of drawing weird conclusions after presenting rather obvious findings.
    Actually, based on shared findings, it is better to consume more eggs because it had a positive effect on all participants.

  9. DAVEY,
    ¿And what about whey?
    For years my levels of cholesterol have been high (260-300). Many sport suplements do contain whey. Officialy, whey contains very few cholesterol. But I do not trust it. Progressively,
    I have removed from my diet: yolks, yogurt, cheese, and my levels stepped down to 220, even without giving up chocolate and toasts (with a little of palm fat). On one hand, whey increases my stamina a little bit. But on the other one I think it increases very much cholesterol levels.
    I have been thinking about eating oats, but they make me feel weird.

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] fat, butter contains dietary cholesterol; margarine, which is made from plant fats, contains none. Many individuals can process dietary cholesterol with minimal effects on their blood cholesterol lev…, but other individuals – especially those with existing cholesterol issues – may see [...]

  4. [...] Yes, eggs are cheap – and a great source of protein. True, eggs have cholesterol – but dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol are not one in the same; they are healthy (and delicious!) to eat in [...]

  5. [...] (185 vs 149 per 100 grams) and have twice the cholesterol of traditional eggs. Keep in mind, the impact of dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol we eat) on the cholesterol in our blood is fairly…. Unless you already have high blood cholesterol levels or any otherwise unhealthy diet, the [...]

  6. [...] amount of love that they deserve. There is a difference between dietary and blood cholesterol, and most people can enjoy eggs without seeing blood cholesterol spikes. If you’re concerned, opt for egg whites – but know that much of the egg’s 6.5 grams of [...]

  7. [...] Don’t eat egg yolks. Why this advice sucks: It’s no secret that eggs are high in cholesterol and that most of the cholesterol is contained in the yolk. But dietary cholesterol tends to have a fairly low impact on the cholesterol levels in blood. Some people with high cholesterol diets have low blood cholesterol and some people with low cholesterol diets have high blood cholesterol. Beyond cholesterol, the yolks are packed with other important nutrients that are essential for your diet. Unless you have high blood cholesterol, eating the egg yolk is a actually nutritional benefit. [...]

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